‘La casa de los espíritus’ (The House of Spirits) at GALA Hispanic Theatre by Veronique MacRae

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“What do you know about life? Its torment, its pain…”

Based on the pivotal, impassioned and ground-breaking novel by Chilean-American novelist, Isabelle Allende, La casa de los espíritus, or The House of Spirits, written by Caridad Svich and directed by Jose Zayas, exemplifies the spirit of Allende’s novel through its magnetic dialogue, mystical undertones, and charismatic action that journeys through a narrative of generational curses, political turmoil, religious strife and misogynistic practice that is not only relative to the play’s cultural setting, but also relays the intense conflict that lies within the stories of cultures across the world.

Monica Steuer, Nelson Landrieu,and Natalia Miranda-Guzmán (Left to Right). Photo by Lonnie Tague.
Monica Steuer, Nelson Landrieu, and Natalia Miranda-Guzmán (Left to Right). Photo by Lonnie Tague.

An eclectic blend of mixed media, strategic blocking, phenomenal acting, and powerhouse spectacle, Director Jose Zayas, the cast, designers, the production staff, and the crew of GALA Hispanic Theatre’s The House of Spirits provide an unforgettable experience into the story of the Truebas and the de Valles through the eyes of the tortured soul, Alba (Natalia Miranda-Guzman).

Miranda-Guzman delivers a dynamically compelling performance as she returns to GALA as Alba, the granddaughter of Esteban Trueba (Nelson Landrieu). As the story unfolds of a family saga intertwined in sociopolitical turmoil, Landrieu paints an intricate portrait of the life of Esteban Trueba.  Landrieu’s depth of characterization and embodiment of Trueba carries viewers on a roller coaster ride of deep love, grave disappointment, detrimental loss, rage-infused soullessness, and humbled redemption. In her premier performance at GALA, Monica Steuer offers a mesmerizing, multi-layered and beautiful performance opposite of Landrieu as Clara, the seer and grandmother of Alba.

While the cast delivered a flawless performances that left me and audience members greatly touched, I was especially moved by Marian Licha as the embittered yet caring sister of Esteban Trueba – Ferula, and Anabel Marcano as the longtime “confidant” of Esteban Trueba – Transito.

Nelson Landrieu, Monica Steuer, Anabel Marcano, Antonio Vargas, and Manolo Santalla (Left to Right). Photo by Lonnie Tague.
Nelson Landrieu, Monica Steuer, Anabel Marcano, Antonio Vargas, and Manolo Santalla (Left to Right). Photo by Lonnie Tague.

It cannot be overlooked that the phenomenal spectacle not only enhances the portrayal of Svich’s The House of Spirits, but ultimately transports viewers into the intimacy of family secrets and generational curses as the writing literally painted the walls and floors of Scenic Designer Elizabeth Jenkins McFadden’s set which is filled with stone-colored frames and haunted candlelight. The puppetry design of Ingrid Crepeau brings the loveable Barnabas (Antonio Vargas) to life. Lighting Designer Joseph Walls, and Projections Designer Alex Koch also help to make this spectacular production of The House of Spirits a definite Must See!

La casa de los espíritus (The House of Spirits) is truly a production that exemplifies the heart of theatre; a piece that challenges us to think, forces us to look within, calls us to ask questions, and leads us to deeper truths of the soul.

Running Time: Two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

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La casa de los espíritus (The House of Spirits) plays through March 10, 2013 at Teatro Hispano GALA (GALA Hispanic Theatre) – 3333 14th Street, NW, in Washington, DC. For tickets, call (202) 234-7174, or purchase them online.

The production is performed in Spanish with English Subtitles.

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Veronique MacRae
Veronique LaShell MacRae is the Founder and Artistic Director of Act Trinity Performing Arts Company (THE ATPAC) based in North Carolina. A graduate of North Carolina Central University with a B.A. in Theatre Performance and Duke University with a Master of Arts in Christian Studies, Veronique’s most recent credits include the one-woman show “Self-Portrait of a Sinner”, excerpts from the one-woman show “Last Words to Baby Girl”, the lead in the Lamb to a Lion production of “Love, Life and Redemption in NYC”; playwright and director of the following shows: “Broken”, “My Brother David”, “Chocolate/Vanilla” (Off-Broadway and Tour); Sue Ellen in “Spreading the News” by Melodic Pictures of Los Angeles and background work in “Law and Order”. New to the Washington, DC area, Veronique will continue advanced studies on arts and theology in the fall of 2012. She looks forward to connecting with other artists and lovers of the arts during the 2012 Capital Fringe Festival.

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